Female Genital Mutilation/ Cutting (FGM/C) is defined as the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Over 200 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the effects of FGM/C.
While eliminating all harmful practices, including female genital mutilation is a target under Global Goal 5 (Gender Equality), 3 million girls and women are still at risk of being cut and exposed to harmful health consequences every year. The psychological and physical impact of FGM/C includes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, complications during childbirth, anaemia and in some cases, death.
So, what can you do to help end FGM/C?
Unfortunately, there is no one solution to ending FGM. The practice is hugely complicated and the reason as to why it happens differs all over the world. However, we have put together a list of 5 things you can do that will help the movement get a little closer to achieving the goal of ending FGM/C by 2030.
1. Raise awareness
Days like today (International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM/C) are a great way to raise awareness about the issue. You can do this by bringing it up with your friends or family and starting a conversation or, you can share information on social media using the hashtag #EndFGM/C.
2. Familiarise yourself with signs and symptoms
FGM is a global issue that is illegal in most countries in the world. Therefore, familiarising yourself with the signs and symptoms might come in handy if you ever come across someone who might be at risk of FGM/C. See below for some examples of signs and symptoms to look out for:
- A special occasion or ceremony takes place where a girl ‘becomes a woman’ or is ‘prepared for marriage’.
- A girl has an unexpected or long absence from school.
- A girl struggles to keep up in school.
3. FGM safeguarding education
If you work with children or vulnerable adults, a particular thing you can do is to put your school or team through FGM safeguarding education. This will help everyone in the organisation or school be informed and keep children and vulnerable adults safe from abuse.
4. Involve men in the conversation
One of the main reasons as to why FGM happens is to control women’s sexuality and that stems from patriarchy. Although this is the case, a huge amount of men in practising communities don’t know why women go through this practice and instead take it on as ‘tradition’. This is a definite reason why men should be part of the conversation. Men End FGM are one of the organisations working start conversations around FGM with men.
Consider supporting them or speaking with a man in your life about FGM.
5. Fund and support frontline activists
The unsung heroes of the movement to end FGM/C are the people that are on the ground protecting girls and women from going through this practice. Collectively, Frontline activists are responsible for protecting and educating countless numbers of people. Funding and supporting them is the least we could do. You can do this by following them on social media and sharing their work.
Here are some frontline activists that you can follow or support:
- Josephine Kulea – Samburu Girls Foundation
- Jeddy Lemarom – The Malkia Initiative
- Natalie Robi – Msichana Empowerment Kuria
Doing one of these five things will help the movement get little closer to achieving the goal of ending FGM/C by 2030.